CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — A Clayton County middle school teacher is responding to claims that she encouraged students to fight in her classroom.
Last week, Channel 2 Action News showed you cell phone video that appeared to show students taking turns fighting one another in a Rex Mill Middle School classroom.
In one video, the teacher breaks it up. In another, she sits back at her desk.
Janette Bagtas, the teacher seen in the video, spoke to Channel 2′s Courtney Francisco after parents called for her to be fired.
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She said she is a mother of two who has taught sixth through eighth grade at Rex Mill for seven years.
When asked if she encouraged the fighting she said, “No, ma’am, not by any means am I encouraging.”
She said the fighting is what the students chose to play when they had free time in her classroom. She said in the district, free time is known as incentive time.
She said what you don’t see in the videos is her pressing a security button for help.
“We tell them to stop, we push the button,” said Bagtas.
She said that’s all she’s required to do.
“What do you want me to do? I’m asking them. I’m asking everybody. What do you want me to do? What more can I do?” said Bagtas. “Those kids are bigger than me. I’ve been hit, I was hit in the shoulder twice.”
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Clayton County Public Schools Chief of Police Reynard Walker described to Francisco how the security button system, Centegix CrisisAlert, works. He says that if a teacher or other staff member presses the button three times, the school resource officer is alerted. The button can be used to alert them to a medical emergency, physical altercation, custody issue, or suspicious activity.
The Centegix CrisisAlert system has two levels of response when activated (Staff Alert & Lockdown). During a “Staff Alert,” the School Responder Group (School Administrators or designee) will respond. When the Centegix badge is clicked/pressed 3 times, the badge holder will receive a short vibration feedback and the School Responder Group will respond. This is when the badge holder needs individual assistance for an issue or incident.
During a “Staff Alert,” there will not be sirens (chirps) or beacon flashes – the entire school will not be aware of any incident.
During a “Lockdown,” the entire campus, district personnel, and district safety and security will be notified. When the Centegix badge is clicked/pressed continuously, this will initiate the site to lockdown. The beacons will activate flashing red strobes and sirens/chirps will sound. A pre-recorded message will be heard over the intercom and the campus message will appear on all campus staff computers. District Safety and Security will respond to the school.— Clayton County Public Schools Chief of Police Reynard Walker
Walker also confirmed that Rex Mill Middle School only has one school resource officer.
He says that if the system appears to be malfunctioning or the officer is not responding, the teacher can use the phone in their classroom to talk to the front office or another teacher.
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Bagtas said she has no plans to ever teach again.
“Never again. Never again. Never again. I can’t even say it enough,” said Bagtas.
Clayton County Public Schools said the investigation into her case is ongoing.
School administration has not confirmed the protocol teachers must follow during fights.
A district spokesperson released a statement about the security button protocol that read,
Clayton County Public Schools continues to prioritize the safety of all staff and students. To this end, the district began utilizing the Centegix Alert System during the 2019-2020 School Year. While the investigation into this matter is ongoing, the district is not aware of any reports of these alert buttons not functioning as intended.
Additionally, Walker says there is a “proactive monitoring function” for the system.
“Centegix has a proactive monitoring function which identifies potential issues with CrisisAlert badges. If a problem has occurred with a badge, a “Badge Health Report” is generated and forwarded to the Department of Safety and Security,” he wrote in a statement.
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